Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We felt the Earth move!

Seriously. We felt the Earth move. I can´t even believe we keep forgetting to blog about it, but last week we experienced our first temlor (mini earthquake) here in Xela! Apparently temblors occur frequently here because Xela is directly above a fault line, but nonetheless the word on the street is that this one was fairly big 6.5 on the Richter scale.

We had just finished classes for the day and headed down to this bake shop-like place for some lunch, Bab´s Home. I say bake shop-like because it is in a sala (living room) setting and an American woman from Michigan (we´re assuming she is Babs) sells breads, pasteries, and a soup of the day. Anywho, we had just set our things down and served ourselves some potato soup when it started. At first it felt like there might have been a big truck driving by, but when it continued we realized what was happening. We had been doing a good job of speaking Spanish with Babs and another American girl (we happen to know from our trip to Nueva Alianza) when all of a sudden Bab´s was frantically telling us (in English) to get in the doorways.

It wasn´t what I thought it would be. Things weren´t falling off the wall and tables, but we really could feel the ground moving and see the buildings swaying. There were two parts with a lull in between, but even then there continued to be a tremble. Afterwards people came into Bab´s and they had not even realized it happened. Often times if you are walking or in a car, you don´t feel it.

Later that night when we chatted about our experience with the family, they laughed when we called it a terremoto (earthquake). Silly us, it was just a temblor. When we asked what the difference was between a terremoto and a temblor we were told a terremoto is when buildings come crashing down and people die. Simple, right. We certainly won´t make that mistake again. The last big terremoto in Guatemala was on February 4,1976.
(The following information is courtesy of Wikipedia)


The 1976 Guatemala earthquake struck on February 4, 1976. It was a 7.5 Mw earthquake, centered in the Motagua Fault, about 160 km northeast of Guatemala City.

Cities throughout the country suffered damage, and most adobe type houses in the outlying areas of Guatemala City were completely destroyed. The earthquake struck during the early morning (at 3.01 am, local time) when most people were asleep. This accounts for the high death toll of 23,000. Approximately 76,000 were injured, and many thousands left homeless. Some of areas went without electricity and communication for days.

The main shock was followed by thousands of aftershocks, some of the larger ones causing additional loss of life and damage.

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